You know you’ve reached the end of the line on winter weather and/or grocery shopping  when you throw a mini-tantrum at the self-checkout at Super One and you’re not a toddler.  I did that today.  I do not say this with any sense of pride, believe me. It was not my finest moment.

The tough thing about having a hissy-fit over technology at the self-checkout is that once you’ve accepted that the machine hates your guts, and you put everything BACK in your cart and huff away saying, “Nope. Nope. NOPE!” loudly to no one in particular, you end up at the back of a different line.

Another customer witnessed this sad display of mine. She was already in a line where actual human beings were checking customers through.  “Rough day?” she asked. “It’s good I don’t say everything that pops into my head.” She smiled. “I know. I’m right there with you. I hate those things, too.” I do not know who this woman is, but she saved me.

Thanks to her, by the time I set my groceries on the belt, I was back to being relatively nice to other people. My cashier was about my age and as she scanned my items, I told her how much I appreciated that she was an actual human being. She said, “Thanks so much for saying that. Five minutes ago we had a little scene here and I am really wondering about humanity.”

As I’d been shopping, I’d noticed the trio of young men she began to tell me about. I recall thinking they were an obnoxious, vulgar trio as they sauntered from one aisle to the next spewing profanity. Bad words. Ugly words. You know that word that got your mouth washed out with Irish Spring if you said it around your mother back when you were a kid?  Yup. That one. F-bombs and S-bombs were raining down all over the store within earshot of  little old ladies and young moms with toddlers strapped into carts.

They continued the bombing run all the way to the cashier. Exasperated, she gave them the look of death that mothers around the world are known for. Instead of shutting their mouths or being ashamed, one of the young men stood inches away from her ear and shouted the same words directly at her. “It’s like he was just daring me to do something!” she said.

As she finished ringing me up, we commiserated about the state of our current culture. How it is possible that three young men would think that behavior like that was funny or appropriate? We wondered why not one man in the store had thought to walk up to the three and put a stop to what they were doing. When you are a woman of a certain age, you pick your battles. With technology, and with foul-mouthed strangers, too.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes, on a Sunday morning before a snow storm in March you get lucky, and women you don’t know save you. They tell you that despite all evidence to the contrary, that it’s all going to be okay. That we are going to be okay.

And you kind of believe it.


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